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Portland Drummer José Medeles to Share Tribute to John Fahey with 'Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems'

The release features a series of improvised rendezvous, inspired and informed by Fahey's looseness and rhythmic idiosyncrasies.

Portland Drummer José Medeles to Share Tribute to John Fahey with 'Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems'

Led by drummer José Medeles (Breeders, 1939 Ensemble, Revival Drum Shop), Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems is a drummer's tribute to guitarist and DIY iconoclast John Fahey. Joined for a series of guitar and drum duets with M. Ward, experimental guitarist Marisa Anderson, and Chris Funk (Decemberists, Stephen Malkmus), it's a genuinely honorific project, featuring not Fahey compositions, but rather a series of improvised rendezvous inspired and informed by his looseness and rhythmic idiosyncrasies.

Though Medeles knew and had interacted with all of his collaborators, the record represents the first time he's played on a record with Anderson and Funk (though he's contributed to Ward's indie pop band She & Him). Recording in the comfortable setting of Bocce Recording in Vancouver, WA, in 2020, these duets are playful and spiritually deep, presented with snapshot clarity Medeles likens to the recordings of Alan Lomax or Chris Strachwitz, "who boldly captured field recording of Southern chain gangs and juke joint raconteurs decades ago. The result here is similar: pure and honest recordings."

Single descrption: "When I heard Marisa's slight laugh at the top the track that set the tone. I knew we were in for a good journey. Inspiration for the name came from a thought of finding an old battered cassette tape and a possible final wish that simply read "Please Send to J.F." - Jose Medeles

From Anderson's Delta blues on "The Paper Snake" to Funk's careening slide guitar on "Golden" to Ward's elegiac electric guitar on "Richness of Peace," these recordings connect to Fahey's transcendent states. "It's past physicality. You're not thinking, you're listening," Medeles says. "Things like that don't happen if you have any hang ups.

The record concludes with "Voice Of The Turtle," a reverie from Funk and Medeles, who trade washes of cymbals and swells of slide guitar underneath a sample of Fahey speaking, describing the light trance he enters when playing and a scene of Robert Johnson, sans his guitar, entertaining spectators by clapping his hands. "I tried to imitate his rhythmic creativity...I had a lot of old blues records around...I listened to those and tried to imitate them as best I could." With Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems, Medeles does the same, creating a generous space that invites the listener into the collective unconscious.


José Medeles made his way to California from Illinois as a young man, and his musical versatility has served him well. He has performed with everyone from Joey Ramone to Ben Harper. José gained international exposure when he joined Kim Deal in The Breeders. He's enormously dedicated to his craft and his business, but is also a family man and fiercely loyal to the people who have helped him along the way.

In 2009 José opened Revival Drum Shop in Portland, Oregon. The shop is dedicated to vintage and custom drums and considered to be by many one of the best drum shops in the world. José currently leads 1939 Ensemble, a drums, vibraphone, trumpet, guitar, and noise quartet, as well as playing solo shows. Most recently, he authored The Stoic Drummer, a collection of axioms and philosophy of stoicism relating to the practice and art of drumming.


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Cover Art: John King

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